We all know what death is, even a small child knows. If people can be filled with such sorrows at the funerals, then why does it seem like people tend to ignore and continue to do things that risk their lives by not taking care of themselves when they should?
Most people don’t want to die (doesn’t imply they want to live), then death is a known risk. In this case, they do just enough to get themselves out of danger, preventing unnatural deaths e.g. victim of a robbery, car accident etc. They only do just enough because there is a trade off, the cost of prevention, e.g. like not eating too much fast food and exercising. Since death is seen as ultimately unavoidable, it moderates the effort and price people are willing to pay to avoid death. Therefore, people don’t ignore the risk, they just manage it within their means.
Instead of thinking of death as a risk, another way is to see it as a destination. These people want to live. Rather than spend time trying to avoid death, people with this perspective they think about what they want accomplish before leaving this world. Life itself is a race against nature so they set their objectives and the fulfil what they set out to do. Sometimes people look like they are just lazing around ignoring the time pressures death has upon them, but even so, people are not ignoring death, they are just taking a rest. The goal setting differs between individual, some set day to day goals, some set for each phase of the race, others set for the entire race and depending on the goals, people behave differently.
Finally, there is also a group of people who are still looking for answers. They still haven’t fully grasp the connection between their own existence, life and death. They ask things like “What is the purpose of life?”, “Is there a God?”, “Where do I go after death?”, “What does it mean to die?”, “Why do I have to live?”. But there are no clear answers to these philosophical questions, and the only way for people to get around is for them to decide, prioritise and commit what to do with their own existence. To be able to do this though, requires a big leap. If they are not determined enough, death will be shelved aside and ignored until they revisit the issue again.
I think most of us have a bit of everything in us, we are risk-averse, but then we want to face death with courage, and when we have ups and downs, we ask ourselves the big questions to realign our world view and the meaning we give to ourselves. We learn to get by even knowing death itself.